The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It

Since 2013, the ‘Conjuring’ series has turned into a cottage industry. Spun-off with several movies, ‘The Conjuring: the Devil Made Me Do It’ is its eighth instalment. It mirrors the ‘Amityville’ films which had endless sequels and marketing opportunities. Connecting them are the central duo of Ed and Lorraine Warren who investigated the infamous Amityville case. Whether you believe in such things may influence how you enjoy the latest entry in their adventures. Spooky occurrences are assured as the spectre of the film producer’s hands takes money out of your pockets as you enter the dark cinema theatre.

Paranormal investigators Ed (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine (Vera Famiga) Warren face their toughest case. While performing an exorcism on a demonically possessed boy, the evil spirit goes into the body of Arne Cheyanne Johnson (Ruairi O’Connor). Months later Arne is arrested for manslaughter. In court he claims his innocence by saying the devil made him do it. Ed and Lorraine are called as witnesses with their reputations at stake. With the world’s media glare upon them, they must fight hearsay and vile demons in a dangerous fight for survival.

Based on a real-life 1981 murder trial, ‘The Conjuring 3’ explores the power of belief. How the Warrens and the evil they confront use their belief system to battle each other is effectively conveyed. Having a grounding in reported facts creates authenticity, adding an air of believability in spite of the outlandish story. This enables ‘The Conjuring 3’’s director Michael Chaves to craft genuine tension, skilfully mixing fact and fiction.

None of this would work without the lead’s strong performances. Wilson and Farmiga bring solid conviction, anchoring the movie with their presence. Despite the expected supernatural pyrotechnics, their well developed characters enable you to care about their fate. The same goes for their co-stars who don’t over-act and keep things at an even level. This is mirrored by the score, showing restraint than bombast, allowing the mood to occur without booming noises and endless false jump scares.

From the look, music, script and acting, ‘The Conjuring 3’ is a strong chapter in the saga. Whilst not quite as good as the first two, the third outing balances the factual drama with fictional thrills well. It’s uncertain whether another movie in the series will surface, but given the ubiquitous nature of horror cinema, another chance to scare audiences will be a temptation too hard for its producers to resist.

Rating out of 10: 7


Without Remorse

In Hollywood, ideas are rarely quickly made into movies. Several have spent eternity stuck in ‘development hell’ – the cinematic version of purgatory where stories take forever to escape. ‘Without Remorse’ knows this only too well, even though it’s based on Tom Clancy’s best-selling book. You would think the author of works featuring Jack Ryan, the agent seen in many blockbusting movies, would automatically get ‘Without Remorse’ made. Over a quarter of a century after Hollywood first purchased the rights, the film finally emerges from Tinsletown’s murky depths.

Skilled US Navy Seal John Clark (Michael B Jordan) and his team rescue a CIA operative held by ex Russian military forces. Months after this mission, Clark’s pregnant wife is murdered in retaliation. Shattered and enraged, Clark goes on the hunt for those responsible. Looking on is former Seal team member Karen Greer (Jodie Turner-Smith) and CIA agent Robert Ritter (Jamie Bell). Both attempt to stop Clark from causing an international incident with the soldier’s fury knowing no limits.

Unlike previous Tom Clancy adapted movies, ‘Without Remorse’ doesn’t have an elongated run-time. This is both a blessing and a curse. Whilst it makes the plot move incredibly fast with nary a breather between fights, it also has the effect in cutting out too many character moments. Jordan has great presence in the lead, as do his co-stars, but they aren’t served as well as they should have been by a pared-down script.

The direction and action are fine, ensuring you are pulled straight into the heat of battle. The story itself also has the usual Clancy hooks keeping you engaged. It’s unfortunate these elements are brought down to the most basic level in which it’s felt you’re only watching part of the tale instead of the whole thing. The difficulty in understanding character motivations is keenly felt because of this. Apart from Clark, there aren’t many other characters to genuinely care about despite the performer’s best efforts.

Given how long it took to appear, it’s a shame ‘Without Remorse’ wasn’t better. Despite having years in which to write one, the screenplay needed more work in filling in the emotional gaps. What’s left is a ‘greatest hits’ version of the source novel with the only remorse felt is why the film version isn’t better.

Rating out of 10: 6